“Just another day in the United States of America, another day of gunfire, panic and fear,” the Los Angeles Times is reporting.
“That’s how the BBC chose to open its coverage of Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino. And while the tone was certainly questionable, the accuracy was not.
“The real shock and horror was the near universal lack of shock and horror.
“In its place was something far more dangerous than terrorists or highly armed psychopaths, more fundamentally terrifying than butchery or bombs: Numbed acceptance, bordering on disassociation.
“Democracy can survive violence, invasion and even fear, but it cannot survive malaise.
“The shooting at the Inland Regional Center was called the deadliest since the 2012 killings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., but even as the number reported of dead climbed into the teens and the wounded flooded hospitals, the reporting, though thorough, was strangely subdued.
“News outlets, including this one, flooded the area with a frightening efficiency born of repetition. Gone was the stutter-step of disbelief, the voice-choked sorrow, the barely concealed rage that marked coverage of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown and Aurora. Gone was the first stage of denial or cautious diminishment, the hope that the harm done would not, could not, be as great as feared.
“Phrases like, ‘In what has become an increasingly commonplace scene’ and ‘In yet another mass tragedy’ opened news reports on virtually every medium. The tones of news anchors varied from personality to personality, but the terrifyingly rote nature of the script everyone followed did not.
“Presidential candidates dutifully took to Twitter and Facebook to make the same statements they uttered during the last mass shooting — the Democrats called for stricter gun control, the Republicans offered prayers and praised law enforcement officials.
“Infusing it all was a sense of reluctant acceptance, even helplessness. Every time a gunman mows down a group of random people, we begin a conversation about guns that invariably devolves into an red state/blue state feud about the 2nd Amendment, laced with bitter complaints about the power of the NRA.
“Here’s the thing about the NRA: Far fewer Americans belong to it than do not. So if everyone who opposes the ironclad grip it purportedly has on Congress, if they would stop tweeting and start organizing, voting, boycotting and protesting — exercising all the amazing freedoms this still astonishing democracy allows — that great and powerful NRA might just shrivel to a couple of men pulling levers behind a curtain.
“As many have noted, the 2nd Amendment was passed long before the invention of automatic weapons, which is the target of most gun control legislation. Very few Americans support the criminalization of handguns or rifles, just the weapons built for the sole purpose of killing a lot of people in a small amount of time with minimal effort.
“The 2nd Amendment is also part of the Constitution, which was written to protect this young democracy and (eventually, with a few additional amendments) all its citizens.
“Not its guns, its citizens.”
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